Who was Baldung?

Hans Baldung Grien

Hans Baldung Grien lived in the 16th century – a turbulent era that is reflected in his works, most of which were created in Strasbourg.

Key Dates in Baldung’s Life

  • 1484 or 1485 – Hans Baldung Grien was probably born in Schwäbisch Gmünd. No surviving historical records shed light on his early years, or his training as an artist, which gives rise to some speculation based on his artworks from this period.
  • 1503–1508 – Baldung worked in Dürer’s workshop in Nuremberg, either as a full member or as an apprentice who worked on commissions.
  • April 1509 – He became a citizen of the free imperial city of Strasbourg.
  • 1512 – Hans Baldung and his wife Margaretha Herlin moved to Freiburg in Breisgau, where he set up a workshop. Meanwhile, he was already well known as a talented artist and his reputation probably earned him the commission to create the main altar for the Freiburg cathedral.
  • 1518 – The couple returned to Strasbourg.
  • Baldung pursued a successful artistic career in the city until his death in 1545.

Art-Historical Context

In the 15th and 16th centuries, on the cusp of the early modern period and the Middle Ages, the Reformation, the Renaissance and the spirit of Humanism profoundly influenced people’s attitudes about society, religion and the fine arts.

  • 1487 – Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger publish Malleus maleficarum, a witch-hunt manual.
  • 1492 – Christopher Columbus “discovers” the Americas.
  • 1516 – Johannes Geiler von Kaysersberg publishes a cycle of sermons on witchcraft.
  • 1517 – Martin Luther posts his theses on the church door in Wittenberg and heralds the beginning of the Reformation.
  • 1524 – The Great Peasants’ Revolt commences when farmers and peasants demand more rights in a rebellious uprising.
  • 1528 – Death of Albrecht Dürer.

Baldung’s Artworks in Numbers

The Bewitched Groom is an enigmatic woodcut. It could be a self-portrait of Baldung, like the three other examples on display in the exhibition, but it’s only “half sure”.

The exhibition comprises many international art loans. The most illustrious lender is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The painting Lot and His Daughters was dismantled into several parts at some uncertain date. Three of four fragments were authenticated and acquired by the Kunsthalle Karlsruhe in autumn 2019.

The Kunsthalle already curated a first Hans Baldung Grien exhibition sixty years ago – the opening was on 4 July 1959.

The smallest art exhibit by Hans Baldung measures 5.6 centimetres in diameter.

The exhibition includes artworks spanning Baldung’s entire career from ca. 1501 to 1545, that is, about forty-four years.

The exhibition presents as many as 250 works of art.

The Margrave Panel is one of the most significant works by Hans Baldung in the Karlsruhe collection. It required about 1,500 hours of painstaking work to restore the painting.

The Seven Ages of Woman, Baldung’s last-known work, was created in 1544.

The most well-travelled exhibit is a loan that is usually on display in Washington state: it was transported 8,066 kilometres from the west coast of the United States to Karlsruhe.